2018,  Diary of a Non-Cook,  Family,  Food,  Holidays,  Thanksgiving

Diary of a Non-Cook: Pastry-Wrapped Asparagus with Balsamic Dipping Sauce

Pastry puff makes my heart happy.

Mostly because it is a warm and fluffy carb, but I’ve been wanting to make an appetizer with it forever. I’ve had multiple intentions to do so. I’ve even bought the frozen sheets and then threw them out months (if not a year) later. I’m better on being less wasteful, but still not the best at eating everything I buy. Anywho, my standard contribution to Thanksgiving was asked of me: an appetizer. To be fair, I kinda wanted to do dessert, but that is always fulfilled by another family. The pies from Apple Hill were calling my name and I wanted to attempt to bake one.

Photo cred

Anywho, you know I ran straight to Pinterest to find my recipe. My key search words this year were — easy, recipe, Thanksgiving. WA LA. There came the pin-hole of finding the right recipe. I was intrigued by a pin touting ’25 Unbelievable Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipe’s’ by Women’s Daily. The pin brought me to their article, where they rounded up Thanksgiving appetizer recipes, all nice and concise for the likes of Non-cooks such as myself. There was an image gallery to scroll through, which was amazing. I kept scrolling until I found Pastry-Wrapped Asparagus with Balsamic Dipping Sauce by Country Living.

I emailed myself the link and let it marinate in my inbox until the day before Thanksgiving. I hadn’t fully committed to this recipe, but I also hadn’t done any additional research. So, in Non-Cook terms that means I was going to stick with this recipe. I talked and thought about attempting another one, but I decided to give this a go. So, before Lot’s birthday dinner I ran to Trader Joe’s. It was conveniently less than a block from the restaurant. I was terrified of how busy it was going to be, BUT it wasn’t! I was completely surprised. It was dumping rain and the evening before Thanksgiving, so maybe that combo was good luck for me. I needed all of the ingredients from the recipe, besides the flour, sea salt, sugar, and bay leaf.

box ready-to-bake puff pastry (2 sheets)
Flour for work surface
3/4 c. grated Parmesan
24 Asparagus spears
1 tbsp. Flaky sea salt
3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
bay leaf
1/4 tsp. dried thyme

Ingredients secured, I planned to make my appetizer as I got ready for Thanksgiving day. Thanksgiving morning we hit Midtown for a killer workout and then grabbed coffee, with plenty of time to shower and make the appetizer. I threw on a robe and headed downstairs to prep the appetizers, so I could blow dry my hair while the oven warmed up for the last few steps of the recipe. Also, I didn’t want to bring over cold appetizers, nor did I want to bake them at my Aunt’s house. Oven real estate is limited on Thanksgiving.

Let’s just say, I winged the making of said appetizers. The directions had dimensions and all the steps, but I wasn’t into figuring it all out. I even have the Pampered Chef cutting mats with measurements on the sides, but I was THAT lazy. PS – My cutting mats do NOT look like the link that I attached, they are the old version, but you get the gist. The frozen Trader Joe’s pastry sheets are sheer genius for a Non-cook. They come in two individually wrapped sheets. Don’t forget they need to be defrosted, I chose to leave them in the fridge the night before.

This honestly couldn’t have been easier, even if I tried. The only issue was I should have bought more or different asparagus. The only asparagus TJ’s had, was the super small stalks or the microwavable ones, but they were super small too. I should have grabbed two bags instead of one OR driven to Nugget Market and gotten more fresh ones. But as my cousin pointed out, later at Thanksgiving, it isn’t asparagus season. Which might have been why it was hard to find them so abundantly.

Seriously, this is one of the easiest appetizers I’ve ever attempted. Besides plating cheese and crackers, this comes in a very close second for ease factor. It was fun, quick, and a little messy. I love using parchment paper. The recipe didn’t call for it, but it makes the clean-up process much easier. I had to maneuver the appetizers like a puzzle to get them all to fit on two baking trays, but it eventually worked itself out. I put them in the fridge, while the oven warmed up.

Thankfully, as I was starting to get ready, Lil jumped in and asked if I needed any help. I told her no, but she insisted on finishing it for me. So, I let her. Duh! So she made the balsamic dipping sauce and put the appetizers in the oven. I didn’t have to do anything, other than help her find a strainer that would work and remove the appetizers from the oven. We improvised and used the garlic smasher to strain the dipping sauce, it wasn’t perfect, but it caught most of the thyme. Guess what I picked up on Black Friday? Yup, a set of three strainers, thanks to this experience 😉

I plated the appetizers, grabbed the sodas I bought, and we left for our Thanksgiving festivities. I should also point out that I purchased pre-made appetizers, Trader Joe’s Cheesy Bites, in the event these did NOT turn out. I brought them anyway and the Arrabiata sauce to dip them in. I ended up baking and serving these as well. I figured it couldn’t hurt and I didn’t want to eat 25 cheesy bites by myself.

Everyone seemed to like them. I really loved my Dad’s joke “what are these lumpias with green things hanging out of them?” We all got a good laugh outta that! But in all, everyone said they liked them. They were a nice alternative to our appetizer spread. Note for next time, get better and larger asparagus. Also, I may also even drizzle the balsamic sauce on top of them. It got kinda messy with everyone using a spoon to either drizzle it on themselves or add some to their plate. It might have been how I plated them too. Who knows?!

Overall, this is a super easy appetizer to make and tastes good. It isn’t a robust flavor profile, but the balsamic definitely gives it an added flair. I can see myself making these again, easily! In case you’re looking for more appetizer ideas, I created a Finger Food board. But to find this recipe, you’ll have to go to the Made It! board.

#NailedIt for another year.

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